Using femtosecond time-resolved x-ray diffraction, we investigated optically excited coherent acoustic phonons in the Weyl semimetal TaAs. The low symmetry of the (112) surface probed in our experiment enables the simultaneous excitation of longitudinal and shear acoustic modes, whose dispersion closely matches our simulations. We observed an asymmetry in the spectral line shape of the longitudinal mode that is notably absent from the shear mode, suggesting a time-dependent frequency chirp that is likely driven by photoinduced carrier diffusion. We argue on the basis of symmetry that these acoustic deformations can transiently alter the electronic structure near the Weyl points and support this with model calculations. Our study underscores the benefit of using off-axis crystal orientations when optically exciting acoustic deformations in topological semimetals, allowing one to transiently change their crystal and electronic structures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)